Captivating the Witch (Mills & Boon Nocturne)

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9780263921595: Captivating the Witch (Mills & Boon Nocturne)

Everything Witch makes him wary. 

Everything Demon captivates her. 

Edamite Thrash is a big, bad, sexy demon overlord with a personal grudge against witches. When fate and a wild, undeniable attraction bind him to Tamatha Bellerose, he must learn how to work as a team to stop a campaign of violence against his kind. But not succumbing to her sensual spell proves infinitely more difficult. 

Tamatha is enchanted by all things demon, especially the potent demon boss and his dark past. Now, with evil and a centuries-old curse surrounding them, Tamatha's only hope is that love—and her unpredictable magic—will be strong enough to save them...

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Michele Hauf lives in Minneapolis and has been writing since the 1990s.  A variety of genres keep her happily busy at the keyboard, including historical romance, paranormal romance, action/adventure and fantasy. Find her on Facebook at: Michele-Hauf-Author, and on Twitter @MicheleHauf, and also on Pinterest at: pinterest.com/toastfaery

Visit her website: michelehauf.com
Email Michele at:  toastfaery@gmail.com

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The evening hours in the Council's archives were indeterminable from the daylight because the vast archives were located two stories below Parisian ground and formed a labyrinth of rooms, cubbies and hallways over many acres. It was like something out of a fantasy movie with the secret passageways and mysterious decor that might suddenly open to a dark chasm so cold your breath would fog, or a dimly lit library whose ceiling soared many stories high, or instead a small Regency-styled tearoom smelling of lilacs.

And sometimes after the witching hour things started moving.

Nestled in a room filled to the industrial iron-beam rafters with dusty old tomes and spiderwebs, Tamatha Bellerose noticed the thoroughly modern fluorescent lighting flickered. Someone was either accessing a security camera or one of the biometric-scan doors. Probably her boss, Certainly Jones, was on his way to remind her—as he did at least once a week—she didn't have to work so late.

Tamatha didn't mind. Since being hired to work in the Archives three months ago, she had been in a witch's information heaven. While she had been hired for general filing and straightening, it was approved that she would spend time studying as she had mentioned that was her reason for seeking the job. Not a problem for her boss. And when Certainly had suggested she choose one of the messier storage rooms—the one housing all demonic artifacts, texts and accoutrements—she'd been thrilled.

Diabology fascinated her. Her grandmother Lysia (whom she had not the pleasure to know) had been a diabolotrist. The tales told by Tamatha's mother, Petrina Bellerose, had been enough to stir Tamatha's curiosity. She wanted to learn everything she could about demons because they were such varied and interesting creatures. And they weren't all bad, as most people assumed. Their species and assorted breeds were as numerous and diverse as the humans who walked the earth.

She'd decided to start with the demons who inhabited the mortal realm, and after she'd learned all that was available, she'd move on to those occupying Daemonia, the Place of All Demons, and then Faery, and then perhaps even Beneath. Many years of work ahead of her to master diabology. She hoped Certainly wouldn't mind if this cleanup project carried on awhile.

There wasn't much else to do in the Archives beyond dusting and looking up things when her boss requested the assistance. The Archives housed the largest collection of paranormal ephemera in the known universe. All spells and grimoires, a copy of the Book of All Spells, potions, objects of magical nature and even creatures of mysterious origins. Some were preserved through taxidermy or in creepy glass receptacles. Some were even stored live.

Beyond the label of assistant archivist, Tamatha considered herself a keeper of books and historical material that told stories about the paranormal species and shaped their origins and evolution. And that was pretty cool.

Sighing, she leaned over the centuries-old grimoire of Basic Demonic Bindings and took a moment to consider how lucky she was to have scored this job. It paid the bills and she got to learn. A witch couldn't ask for much more than that.

Not that she needed the money. She was quite well-off, thanks to nearly a century of wise investments. And she never got so deeply into a relationship with a man that they considered marriage, and thus, joining incomes. That way lay poverty, Tamatha believed. Her last lover, a cat shape-shifter, had been quick to suggest marriage, a combining of their lives. The familiar had been too charming, too suave. And she had fallen for his seductive spell like a cat to nip. Only, she had suddenly remembered one day, while in the midst of a sensual reverie, how much she didn't like cats. And then the family curse had seen to preventing any rash decisions she may have made regarding making the relationship permanent.

The Bellerose curse ensured the females in her family for the past three generations had bad luck with love and lovers. Relationships never lasted. Most lovers went mad. Literally. The occasional unlucky lover ended up dead.

The familiar had been run over by a car a month after suggesting he and Tamatha start a family together.

Over the decades, a few other lovers had died, but maudlin grief wasn't her style. She'd written such expected deaths off as the Bellerose curse and had moved forward. It was something she knew how to do. It was all Tamatha had ever known, for she had watched many of her mother's lovers die, as well.

"But I am hopeful," she whispered.

She was determined to never give up on love. Someday it might stick. And she strove to follow the family motto: Love Often. Yet what was generally whispered after that declaration of love was "because they never last long." Not so much a family joke as the truth.

Why she was musing over the fate of the Bellerose women's lovers was beyond her. Though her mind did tend to wander after hours bent over a book. Not that there was anything at all wrong with that. Tamatha's favorite thing in the world was to lose herself in a book. And to try out new spells.

"I want to test this binding spell," she said and tapped the handwritten text before her. "I think I've got it down. Just say the right words—scatura, demonicus, void—and voilà!" Bound demon.

From there, she could ask the demon questions and study it while not having to worry it might harm her. Because the best way to learn was from the source. She preferred live studies as opposed to dusty tomes. But she had no demon friends, and none of her witch friends had close demonic contacts, either. Which was a good thing. She didn't run with witches who summoned demons to do their bidding. That was cruel.

She wondered how difficult it would be to locate a demon willing to let her bind it. She had lived in Paris only a little over a year, after moving here from Belgrade, where—well, yes, that shapeshifter affair. Her "friends" list was slowly growing, listing mostly witches, because that was who she generally trusted and understood. But there were a couple vampires and the werewolf/vampire half-breed Rhys Hawkes whom she considered her friends.

Her boss, Certainly Jones—or CJ, as he asked her to call him—was a dark witch who practiced the dark arts.

Didn't make him evil or wrong. The dark was necessary to balance the light, which was what Tamatha practiced.

Though adding diabology to her oeuvre would darken her talents. She didn't mind shadowing her aura. She aimed to be well-rounded in all magical arts, and knowledge of all aspects of witchcraft would help her to understand and relate to others much better. And as long as she avoided malefic magic, she was good with the balancing act the light and dark would work on her soul.

"Tamatha?"

She spun around from the grimoire she'd been perusing to spy CJ's dark sweep of long hair. He stuck his head between the opened door and wall. The tattoo on his neck was a ward against vampires. CJ sported dozens of tattoos and most were spells or wards.

Tamatha found a tattooed man incredibly sexy. Something about creating art on his skin to share with the world. But she would keep it professional with CJ. His wife would appreciate that.

"I'll leave soon, boss. It is after hours, and I wanted to do some studying. I found something interesting."

"It's after midnight."

"Really?" Wow, time had flown this evening. She eyed the teapot on the table, which was empty—five cups ago. "Right. I suppose I should be heading out." Not that she ever slept more than a few hours a night. "I'll be back in the morning, bright and early."

"Tomorrow is Saturday," CJ said as she gathered her purse and stepped into her high-heeled shoes, which she always slipped off when she tucked up her legs in the plush gray velvet easy chair. "I don't want to see you in here until Monday. Got that?"

She saluted him. He winked and left her to straighten the work area and turn out the lights. While her OCD magic generally took care of things in her immediate range, snapping unarranged items into order as she walked by, it worked only in close range. Mostly, humans didn't notice, and those who did, she quickly did a hands-on straighten to make it look as though she'd physically touched the object.

Swiping her hand over a sprinkling of dust on the top of a stack of books, she had to restrain herself from grabbing the feather duster. And then she couldn't resist a quick touch-up. Tapping her littlest fingers together, which activated her air magic, she blew gently over a row of books. The dust swirled and lifted and dispersed into nothing.

With a satisfied nod, she said, "Always better than manual labor. So! Midnight. And a full moon tonight. This night promises a new beginning."

Or so it had said in her horoscope that she'd read on the back of a stranger's newspaper while taking the Métro to work this morning.

"Ha! Horoscopes," she said with a laugh as she strolled down the dimly lit hallway to the elevator, her heels clicking brightly on the bare concrete floor. "I'll take real astrology any day. And that says the full moon brings family and challenge to my life."

Her only living family—her mother, Petrina—lived in Greece with her current lover. Petrina and Tamatha talked once a month. They had a great relationship. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on the degree of attachment— Petrina's lover was dying. Again, the curse. Her mother wasn't upset over it. Though she had mentioned something about perhaps giving him some belladonna to help him along so he didn't have to suffer.

As for the challenge the horoscope had promised... "I like a good adventure." But she wouldn't admit that adventure was hard to come by with her nose stuck in a book all day. Her life was exciting. Mostly.

Maybe.

"Hardly."

So she put a lot of focus and energy into her studies. She had mastered earth, air, water and even fire magic. The sigils tattooed on her fingers representing each of the four elements allowed for easy access to a specific elemental spell. She also practiced ornithomancy (divination by birds), alomancy (divination by salt) and pyromancy (fire divination). And her venture into diabology would eventually add demonomancy to that list. As far as witches went, Tamatha was quite powerful. But never powerful enough when the world offered so many opportunities to learn and expand her knowledge.

She stepped into the elevator and tugged at her gray pencil skirt with fingers beringed in lapis lazuli (for truth), amethyst (for grounding and balance) and bloodstone (for healing). The elevator moved laboriously up two floors. She'd left her reading glasses on, and she now tucked them into her purse. They were fabulous cat's-eye frames bespangled with rhinestones at the corners of each eye. She was into the rockabilly look and was pleased it was actually making a style comeback with the humans. Easier to fit in when she resembled others.

On the other hand, she never wanted to conform. That was for uninteresting people who didn't know themselves.

Once out of the elevator, she nodded goodbye to the hirsute night guard, who she suspected was a werewolf, but he never seemed to want to converse, barely looking up from his handheld television as she passed and never offering a vocal "au revoir" or even a confirming nod.

Ah well, she couldn't befriend them all. And he was a shapeshifter, so yeah, nix that.

Located on the Right Bank in the 11th arrondissement, the Council headquarters opened into a dreary alleyway that was far from parking or any Métro station. Out of the way and unassuming. Tamatha could do without the ten-minute walk to the closest subway. She lived across the river in the 6th, near the Luxembourg Gardens. It was a fine walk on a sunny day, when she remembered to bring along walking flats. Not tonight, though, with the promise of rain thickening the air.

Muttering the words to the demon binding spell, she delighted in how easily she remembered things like Latin spells or even long ingredient lists for poultices and charms. If only her luck with men could be so simple and long lasting.

The curious thing about the family curse was that no one was really sure how it had originated, nor had anyone tried to vanquish it. Sure, the Bellerose women were independent and much preferred lovers to a more permanent husband. But Tamatha had already had her share of lost lovers since she'd started dating in her late teens in the 1930s. She was ready for some permanence. For a good old-fashioned love affair that might result in something more promising than death to the male party.

Warm summer raindrops spattered her cheek and she picked up into a sort-of run. The fastest she could manage in four-inch heels and with a tight skirt was a penguin waddle.

Touching her middle fingers together to ask for a rain-parting spell, she dodged left into a cobblestoned alleyway she knew was sheltered with close-spaced roof ledges—and she ran right into a man. He had been walking swiftly as well, and when they collided he let out an "ouff" and gripped her by the shoulders.

The first thing Tamatha noticed in the moon-shielded darkness was the glint of something shiny and black at his temples, beneath the hairline, and the barest scent of sulfur. Demon? A brief red glow ignited in his eyes.

She reacted. "Scatura, demonicus, void!"

"Wait—"

It was too late for his protest. The man dropped her, his arms slapping to his sides and his body going rigid. He wore half gloves on his hands, and his exposed fingers crooked into ridged claws. His feet stiffened within his boots and he teetered, falling backward, his shoulders and head hitting the brick wall of the building but a foot behind him.

His eyes glowed red and he growled at her through tight jaws. "Witch!"

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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